By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
A sizable crowd that included representatives from numerous major college football programs turned out to get a look at Madison Southern running back Damien Harris and the Eagles Friday during the team’s spring game.
And no one was disappointed in the show the nation’s top-ranked running back turned in, in his brief time on the offensive side of the ball.
Harris only carried the ball three times and was the target of a couple of passes, but he made those carries count.
He reeled off touchdown runs of 67, 34, and 70 yards, leaving the group of coaches, including University of Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown, dreaming of what could be if they can entice the young Eagles’ superstar to commit to their school.
Prior to the game, Southern coach Jon Clark said Harris and the other starters would see limited playing time as the coaching staff looked at some younger players that will be counted on next fall.
“The spring game is a reward for their nine days of hard practice. These guys have gone almost every day in pads and have been working their tails off. This is the fun reward for that,” Clark said. “We won’t use Damien and Aaron Sipple and J.D. Dean and our starters much. We’ve done a lot of changes offensively and defensively to fit our personnel, so we want to let some of our younger guys play and run around a little bit and see who is going to shine a little.”
“You can practice all you want. But when you flip the lights on and play a game, some kids shine better than they ever will in practice,” Clark added.
Though Harris, as always, was the main attraction, several other players showed they were ready to perform under the bright lights on Friday nights, turning in some highlight-reel plays as well.
Aaron Sipple ripped off a 27-yard run early in the game before leaving with an injury.
Griffin Gabbard hauled in a 35-yard pass reception and a 37-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Jared Simpson.
Peyton Skidmore scored on a 19-yard run for the blue team and J.D. Dean hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Aaron Slone.
Jon Slone and Cain Cole both caught several passes of more than 10 yards each.